Manila Bulletin - Senate Ratifies Maritime Labor Convention treaty by Mario Casayuran

The Senate ratified yesterday the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006, an international treaty which seeks to protect the rights of seafarers worldwide.

Because of this, Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate foreign relations committee, said Filipino seafarers could now expect better working conditions and fairer terms of employment.

There are 400,000 domestic and international Filipino seafarers.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile lauded the speedy concurrence by the Upper House of the ratification of the MLC, saying that Filipino maritime seafarers are national heroes who contribute to the country’s development.

“Last year, our seafarers accounted for 22 percent of the total foreign remittances from overseas Filipino or an equivalent of $4.3 billion. They are our modern heroes that contribute to our national economy,’’ Enrile said.

The treaty was approved on third and final reading with 22 affirmative votes, no negative vote and zero abstention.

Those who voted for the treaty were Enrile, Senate President Prop Tempore Jose ‘’Jinggoy’’ Estrada, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Senators Legarda, Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Pilar Juliana ‘’Pia’’ Cayetano, Miriam Defensora Santiago, Franklin M. Drilon, Teofisto Guingona III, Gregorio  Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Manuel Lapid, Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Sergio Osmena III, Francis Pangilinan, Ralph G. Recto, Ramon Revilla Jr., Antonio Trillanes and Manuel Villar.

“As the 30th ILO member state to ratify the MLC is nothing less than a global milestone,” Legarda said.

“The MLC, 2006, envisioned to spur the modernization of shipping fleets to comply with international standards, will enter into force one year after it has been ratified by 30 countries with a minimum of 33% of world tonnage. Before the Philippines ratified MLC, 2006, it was ratified by 29 countries with 58.5% of the world tonnage,” she said.

“Our ratification finally and justly establishes the bill of rights of 1.2 million seafarers worldwide, 400,000 of whom are our very own. We should take great pride in this achievement,” she added.

Legarda noted that 30 percent of all the personnel manning the ships are Filipino seafarers. In 2011 alone, the Philippines deployed 343,587 seafarers, making one out of every five  seafarers in the world is a Filipino.        

Legarda said she is hopeful that the unfair conditions of seafarers including exploitation, excessive working hours, ill-treatment, contract substitution and underpayment of wages and other benefits will be abolished through this Convention.